The Exports Performance and Prospects 2022/2023 report from Bord Bia released in January this year, shows that Irish drinks exports were up by 22% year-on-year, a 25% value increase on pre-pandemic (2019) levels, as the sector demonstrated ‘extraordinary’ recovery and now growth. With vodka being the most popular of all spirits, this is indeed good news.
Donal Comerford, head of Reserve Brands at Diageo Ireland, points out that, “Vodka is the powerhouse category for spirits with 30.9% of the market, so three in 10 people are going into a bar to get a vodka.”
“Price is not at the top of the decision hierarchy at all” he continues, “but having a high quality brand on offer is important. We, as a trade, need to embrace that and get that message across that we do have high quality vodka here. It’s an area that has been underserved. For example we’re seeing 17% growth in super premium vodka, according to Nielsen MAT to June,” says Comorford.
In addition to this The Spirits Market Report 2021 from Drinks Ireland|Spirits shows that domestic spirits sales rebounded last year, as hospitality venues reopened in the second half of the year, up by 8% to 2.55 million litres sold.
James Wilson, a Research Analyst with Mintel, points out in his report, Vodka and Gin – Ireland, published last year that, “Irish consumers are most likely to drink vodka and gin at a pub or bar or whilst they’re on holiday. Moreover, as visiting a pub or bar is one of the most popular activities Irish consumers take part in when taking a trip and with the number of domestic and overseas visitors to the island of Ireland increasing, this provides significant growth opportunities for vodka and gin brands in the on-trade.”
With all this good news in mind, we look at some of the most prominent vodka brands making moves at present.
Cocktail hour with Tito’s Handmade Vodka, America’s favourite spirit is fast becoming one of Ireland’s favourites and the perfect partner for a stylish Cosmopolitan, a classic Mule or the popular Espresso Martini. Tito’s Handmade Vodka is unique in its smooth, depth of flavour produced from the traditional corn based distillation, in small batches. Distilled from corn so it is smooth enough to enjoy neat, Tito’s Vodka is a favourite beverage partner and is a popular feature on cocktail lists in bars, restaurants and hotels. Tito’s Handmade Vodka is nationally distributed in Ireland by Comans Beverages Ltd and is available in 5cl, 20cl,70cl, 1ltr, 1.75 litres and 3 litres.
Bert (Bertito to his family and friends) Beveridge founded Tito’s Handmade Vodka in Austin Texas 25years ago. Grounded in a unique story that started back in the 1990’s, Bert was known as “the vodka guy”. Short on funds, he would create vodka infusions to give as gifts to friends and family. Taking a mason jar, Tito would add fresh ingredients like fruits, chillies, even coffee then add the cheapest vodka he could find and present his gift after a couple of weeks of infusion. On a 12 acre plot outside Austin, Tito went on to build the first legal distillery in Texas using old fashioned pot stills. It is distilled six times, a process similar to that used to make the finest single malt whiskies. While distilling in a batch-process, pot still is more expensive and time-consuming; the careful attention and craftsmanship delivers the best tasting vodka.
Each batch is taste-tested at the end of production to ensure consistency. This traditional method, along with corn based distillation and copper based stills, yields a more flavourful, well-balanced, distinct spirit that is full of body. Distilling from corn also makes Tito’s Handmade Vodka naturally gluten-free.
Graham Norton’s own Irish vodka
Could Graham Norton’s Own Irish Vodka be the best thing to happen to cocktails since the olive? Select your favourite happy hour soundtrack, dust off that shaker and see for yourself! Craft distilled the traditional way from Irish potatoes, this vodka is made with pure Mullaghmesha mountain water, filtered through 300-million-year-old West Cork red sandstone.
Following the success of Graham Norton’s Own Irish and Own Pink GiNs and the impending launch of Graham Norton’s Marmalade Gin, Graham wanted to produce a new premium Irish potato vodka to add to his collection. Developed in collaboration with a local Irish potato farmer and gin producer in Graham’s hometown of Cork, Ireland, the new addition to Graham Norton’s Own Wine and Spirits range is ready to revolutionise the vodka category.
The humble potato is widely acclaimed for creating high quality well-balanced vodka. Graham Norton’s Own Irish Vodka is a great showcase of this with its creamy but earthy mouthfeel and hints of vanilla coming through. With a clean long refreshing finish you will be wondering what you have been missing.
According to Norton, ‘Anyone who tells you that vodka is flavourless has clearly been wasting time drinking the wrong sort of vodka. My new Irish vodka is a spirit to be enjoyed, not ignored and the perfect vodka for making the best Espresso Martini imaginable.”
Graham Norton Vodka is distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam.
Superior craft Irish vodka equals happier customers
Irish hospitality owners, given the option would prefer to sell authentic quality Irish brands, as opposed to mass produced imported brands but at the same time they have to be conscious of their own margins. Istil38 gives them the option to give their customers a premium product at an affordable price. i-Stil38 may be the underdog to the imported brands, but Ireland loves an underdog!
i-Stil38 relies on the quality of its liquid as opposed to the size of the cheque it can write. Irish customers are becoming more discerning and are appreciating being served a better-quality vodka as opposed to a generic cheap supermarket brand at a high price.
It may have only launched in April last year, but i-Stil 38 Superior Craft Irish Vodka has had an exceptionally positive year. With strong nationwide distribution around the country and two full time brand ambassadors, Some of Irelands best and most progressive bars have been quick to take in all three of the brand’s flavours to mix them into classic cocktails and new delicious creations.
Last year the brand won two gold medals at the Irish Whiskey Awards, istil 38 Superior Irish Vodka won gold for its Classic Irish vodka and its Vanilla Irish Vodka.
From the heart of Co. Kerry
Well known for its whiskey and gin, Dingle Vodka was the distillery’s first product back in 2012. As with all Dingle Distillery products, it uses water from its well to create its masterpieces, all of course in small batches.
The still is charged with 500 litres of the finest, purest, grain alcohol and is then distilled for a fifth and final time. What makes Dingle Vodka so unique and unusual is the fact that it is quintuple distilled. That fifth distillation makes a huge difference. You can taste it in the incredible purity that is as pure as the environment where they make it. There’s just a touch of sweetness and creamy texture that takes a lot of people by surprise. It is exceptionally good drunk neat. Dingle Distillery set out to make a really good vodka but even they were surprised when they tasted the first batch. They say it was one of those rare times when you get something perfectly right on the first go. According to tasting notes, it is incredible soft with a creamy mouth feel and a hint of sweetness. It also has a wonderful citrus finish which is both refreshing and memorable.
Dingle Distillery is located at the edge of the scenic town of Dingle, Co. Kerry famous for its hospitality, beautiful harbour, amazing local produce and the striking seascapes and landscapes that surround the town.
Minke Irish vodka
In 2021, Clonakilty Distillery released Minke Irish Vodka onto the market. This marked the distillery’s first debut into the vodka industry, and it complemented their growing portfolio of alcoholic beverages. It was awarded the title of World’s Best Varietal Vodka at the World Vodka Awards 2023, which took place recently.